Two years ago Jamie Craig thought she was done with volleyball.
She was in a car accident that resulted in her receiving 75 stitches to her face, fracturing the T4 on her spine and a bruise from her seatbelt.
It took the former Penticton Secondary School Laker the summer to recover and now, heading into her final year of college, she is celebrating some big triumphs.
“I was told I wasn’t supposed to play for the first couple months I was there, but I did,” said Craig, who has played four years with the Olds College Broncos in Alberta. “Then just going back and pushing myself and really doing well. It was a really big accomplishment for me to receive those awards (Player of the Year for her team and Broncos Athlete of the Year). It’s not something I had as a goal. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was shocked, but it was really nice to be able to be recognized for my accomplishments. I do work really hard for them. It was nice for me.”
Returning to the court, Craig had a different mindset on things. She basked in the team environment, but hasn’t lost her edge, perhaps the very thing that helped her recover.
“I like competition,” said Craig, who is studying animal health technology (to become an animal nurse.)
In her time as a Bronco, Craig is most proud of making the All Conference team the last two years and becoming the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference’s all-time assist leader. Entering her fifth and final season, Craig has 1,559 of them.
“I didn’t really know. My coach (Chris Wandler) told me, I didn’t really believe him,” Craig laughed. “I guess it’s pretty cool. A good accomplishment. It’s not something I ever thought about. When he told me it was pretty exciting.”
Craig credits the success she has had to Wandler.
“I would be nowhere near where I am today or what I’ve accomplished without him,” she said.
Craig was one of Wandler’s first setting recruits when he joined the Broncos.
“She has grown with me and the other people on the team to be quite the leader and quite the work horse,” said Wandler. “She means a great deal for our program.”
Craig loves playing at the college level, especially because of the strong conference they play in. Two of the three last national championship teams have come from the ACAC. Briercrest College held the No. 1 ranking for over half of the season.
“It’s a dog fight. There is no given matches,”said Wandler.
Heading into her final season Craig will be putting her attention on playing with tempo. Wandler wants them to play with speed so she will focus her energy on quickness.
“It’s pretty mental for me. I got the privilege of being the captain on the team the last two years,” she said. “More of a leadership role too was something I had to work on. I like it a lot. To think that my teammates can look up to me, I can set a good example, it’s fun.”
In her first two years with the Broncos, Craig didn’t say much and looked up to her teammates. As her confidence grew, she became more outspoken.
“To start coming out of high school and be on the floor at any college program is tough,” said Wandler, who added Craig is good to coach. “First two years was a big learning curve. Knowing the speed of the game. The coach getting to know her, the coach pushing her. It takes a very coachable person and a stubborn person to want to get better every day. It’s been awesome having Jamie with us the past four years.”